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LAbbe constantin


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Title:L'AbbeConstantin,Complete
Author:LudovicHalevy
ReleaseDate:October5,2006[EBook#3957]
LastUpdated:August23,2016
Language:English

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THEABBECONSTANTIN



ByLudovicHalevy

WithaPrefacebyE.LEGOUVE,oftheFrenchAcademy

CONTENTS
LUDOVICHALEVY
THEABBECONSTANTIN

BOOK1.
CHAPTERI.THESALEOFLONGUEVAL
CHAPTERII.THENEWCHATELAINE
CHAPTERIII.DELIGHTFULSURPRISES
BOOK2.
CHAPTERIV.ARIOTOFCHARITY
CHAPTERV.THEFAIRAMERICANS
CHAPTERVI.ALITTLEDINNERFORFOUR


BOOK3.
CHAPTERVII.CONFIDENCES
CHAPTERVIII.ANOTHERMARTYRTOMILLIONS
CHAPTERIX.THEREWARDOFTENDERCOURAGE


LUDOVICHALEVY
Ludovic Halevy was born in Paris, January 1, 1834. His father was Leon
Halevy, the celebrated author; his grandfather, Fromenthal, the eminent
composer. Ludovic was destined for the civil service, and, after finishing his
studies, entered successively the Department of State (1852); the Algerian
Department (1858), and later on became editorial secretary of the Corps
Legislatif (1860). When his patron, the Duc de Morny, died in 1865, Halevy
resigned, giving up a lucrative position for the uncertain profession of a
playwright:Atthisperiodhedevotedhimselfexclusivelytothetheatre.
Hehadalreadywrittenplaysasearlyas1856,andhadalsotriedhishandat
fiction, but did not meet with very great success. Toward 1860, however, he
becameacquaintedwithHenriMeilhac,andwithhimformedakindofliterary
union,lastingforalmosttwentyyears,whenHalevyratherabruptlyabandoned
thetheatreandbecameawriteroffiction.
We have seen such kinds of co-partnerships, for instance, in Beaumont and
Fletcher;morerecentlyinthebeautifulFrenchtalesofErckmann-Chatrian,and


stilllaterintheEnglishnovelsofBesantandRice.
Some say it was a fortunate event for Meilhac; others assert that Halevy
reaped a great profit by the union. Be this as it may, a great number of playsdrama, comedy, farce, opera, operetta and ballet—were jointly produced, as is
shown by the title-pages of two score or more of their pieces. When Ludovic
HalevywasacandidateforL’Academie—heenteredthatgloriousbodyin1884
—the question was ventilated by Pailleron: “What was the author’s literary
relation in his union with Meilhac?” It was answered by M. Sarcey, who
criticised the character and quality of the work achieved. Public opinion has a
longtimesincebroughtinquiteanotherverdictinthecase.
Halevy’s cooperation endowed the plays of Meilhac with a fuller ethical
richness—tempered them, so to speak, and made them real, for it can not be
deniedthatMeilhacwasinclinedtoextravagance.
Halevy’snovelsareremarkablefortheeleganceofliterarystyle,tendernessof
spiritandkeennessofobservation.Heexcelsinironicalsketches.Hehasoften
beencomparedtoEugeneSue,buthistouchislighterthanSue’s,andhishumor
less unctuous. Most of his little sketches, originally written for La Vie
Parisienne, were collected in his ‘Monsieur et Madame Cardinal’ (1873); and


‘LesPetitesCardinal’,(1880).Theyarenotintended‘virginibuspuerisque’,and
theauthor’sattitudeisthatofahalf-pitying,half-contemptuousmoralist,yetthe
virilityofhiscriticismhasbroughthimimmortality.
Personalrecollectionsofthegreatwararetobefoundin‘L’Invasion’(1872);
and‘NotesetSouvenirs’,1871-1872(1889).Mostextraordinary,however,was
thesuccessof‘L’AbbeConstantin’(1882),crownedbytheAcademy,whichhas
gonethroughnolessthanonehundredandfiftyeditionsupto1904,andranks
asoneofthegreatestsuccessesofcontemporaneousliterature.Itis,indeed,his
‘chef-d’oeuvre’, very delicate, earnest, and at the same time ironical, a most
entrancing family story. It was then that the doors of the French Academy
opened wide before Halevy. ‘L’Abbe Constantin’ was adapted for the stage by
Cremieux and Decourcelle (Le Gymnase, 1882). Further notable novels are:
‘Criquette, Deux Mariages, Un Grand Mariage, Un Mariage d’Amour’, all in
1883;‘Princesse,LesTroisCoupsdeFoudre,MonCamaradeMoussard’,allin
1884;andtheromances,‘Karikari(1892),andMariette(1893)’.Sincethattime,
Ithink,Halevyhasnotpublishedanythingofimportance.
E.LEGOUVE
del’AcademieFrancaise.


THEABBECONSTANTIN


BOOK1.


CHAPTERI.THESALEOFLONGUEVAL
Withastepstillvaliantandfirm,anoldpriestwalkedalongthedustyroadin
the full rays of a brilliant sun. For more than thirty years the Abbe Constantin
hadbeenCureofthelittlevillagewhichsleptthereintheplain,onthebanksof
a slender stream called La Lizotte. The Abbe Constantin was walking by the
wallwhichsurroundedtheparkofthecastleofLongueval;atlasthereachedthe
entrance-gate, which rested high and massive on two ancient pillars of stone,
embrowned and gnawed by time. The Cure stopped, and mournfully regarded
twoimmensebluepostersfixedonthepillars.
The posters announced that on Wednesday, May 18, 1881, at one o’clock
P.M., would take place, before the Civil Tribunal of Souvigny, the sale of the
domainofLongueval,dividedintofourlots:
1. Thecastle of Longueval,itsdependencies,finepiecesofwater,extensive
offices, park of 150 hectares in extent, completely surrounded by a wall, and
traversedbythelittleriverLizotte.Valuedat600,000francs.
2.ThefarmofBlanche-Couronne,300hectares,valuedat500,000francs.
3.ThefarmofLaRozeraie,250hectares,valuedat400,000francs.
4. The woods and forests of La Mionne, containing 450 hectares, valued at
550,000francs.
And these four amounts, added together at the foot of the bill, gave the
respectablesumof2,050,000francs.
Then they were really going to dismember this magnificent domain, which,
escapingallmutilation,hadformorethantwocenturiesalwaysbeentransmitted
intact from father to son in the family of Longueval. The placards also
announcedthatafterthetemporarydivisionintofourlots,itwouldbepossibleto
unite them again, and offer for sale the entire domain; but it was a very large
morsel,and,toallappearance,nopurchaserwouldpresenthimself.
TheMarquisedeLonguevalhaddiedsixmonthsbefore;in1873shehadlost
heronlyson,RobertdeLongueval;thethreeheirswerethegrandchildrenofthe
Marquise:Pierre,Helene,andCamille.Ithadbeenfoundnecessarytoofferthe
domain for sale, as Helene and Camille were minors. Pierre, a young man of
three-and-twenty, had lived rather fast, was already half-ruined, and could not
hopetoredeemLongueval.


It was mid-day. In an hour it would have a new master, this old castle of
Longueval; and this master, who would he be? What woman would take the
placeoftheoldMarquiseinthechimney-cornerofthegrandsalon,alladorned
withancienttapestry?—theoldMarquise,thefriendoftheoldpriest.Itwasshe
who had restored the church; it was she who had established and furnished a
complete dispensary at the vicarage under the care of Pauline, the Cure’s
servant;itwasshewho,twiceaweek,inhergreatbarouche,allcrowdedwith
little children’s clothes and thick woolen petticoats, came to fetch the Abbe
Constantintomakewithhimwhatshecalled‘lachasseauxpauvres’.
Theoldpriestcontinuedhiswalk,musingoverallthis;thenhethought,too—
thegreatestsaintshavetheirlittleweaknesses—hethought,too,ofthebeloved
habitsofthirtyyearsthusrudelyinterrupted.EveryThursdayandeverySunday
he had dined at the castle. How he had been petted, coaxed, indulged! Little
Camille—shewaseightyearsold—wouldcomeandsitonhiskneeandsayto
him:
“Youknow,MonsieurleCure,itisinyourchurchthatImeantobemarried,
andgrandmammawillsendsuchheapsofflowerstofill,quitefillthechurch—
more than for the month of Mary. It will be like a large garden—all white, all
white,allwhite!”
ThemonthofMary!ItwasthenthemonthofMary.Formerly,atthisseason,
the altar disappeared under the flowers brought from the conservatories of
Longueval. None this year were on the altar, except a few bouquets of lily-ofthe-valleyandwhitelilacingildedchinavases.Formerly,everySundayathigh
mass, and every evening during the month of Mary, Mademoiselle Hebert, the
reader to Madame de Longueval, played the little harmonium given by the
Marquise.Nowthepoorharmonium,reducedtosilence,nolongeraccompanied
the voices of the choir or the children’s hymns. Mademoiselle Marbeau, the
postmistress, would, with all her heart, have taken the place of Mademoiselle
Hebert, but she dared not, though she was a little musical! She was afraid of
beingremarkedasoftheclericalparty,anddenouncedbytheMayor,whowasa
Freethinker. That might have been injurious to her interests, and prevented her
promotion.
He had nearly reached the end of the wall of the park—that park of which
everycornerwasknowntotheoldpriest.Theroadnowfollowedthebanksof
the Lizotte, and on the other side of the little stream stretched the fields
belonging to the two farms; then, still farther off, rose the dark woods of La
Mionne.
Divided! The domain was going to be divided! The heart of the poor priest


was rent by this bitter thought. All that for thirty years had been inseparable,
indivisible to him. It was a little his own, his very own, his estate, this great
property.HefeltathomeonthelandsofLongueval.Ithadhappenedmorethan
oncethathehadstoppedcomplacentlybeforeanimmensecornfield,pluckedan
ear,removedthehusk,andsaidtohimself:
“Come! the grain is fine, firm, and sound. This year we shall have a good
harvest!”
And with a joyous heart he would continue his way through his fields, his
meadows,hispastures;inshort,byeverychordofhisheart,byeverytieofhis
life,byallhishabits,hismemories,heclungtothisdomainwhoselasthourhad
come.
The Abbe perceived in the distance the farm of Blanche-Couronne; its redtiledroofsshoweddistinctlyagainsttheverdureoftheforest.There,again,the
Cure was at home. Bernard, the farmer of the Marquise, was his friend; and
whentheoldpriestwasdelayedinhisvisitstothepoorandsick,whenthesun
wassinkingbelowthehorizon,andtheAbbebegantofeelalittlefatiguedinhis
limbs,andasensationofexhaustioninhisstomach,hestoppedandsuppedwith
Bernard, regaled himself with a savory stew and potatoes, and emptied his
pitcherofcider;then,aftersupper,thefarmerharnessedhisoldblackmaretohis
cart,andtookthevicarbacktoLongueval.Thewholedistancetheychattedand
quarrelled. The Abbe reproached the farmer with not going to mass, and the
latterreplied:
“Thewifeandthegirlsgoforme.Youknowverywell,MonsieurleCure,that
is how it is with us. The women have enough religion for the men. They will
openthegatesofparadiseforus.”
Andheaddedmaliciously,whilegivingatouchofthewhiptohisoldblack
mare:
“Ifthereisone!”
TheCuresprangfromhisseat.
“What!ifthereisone!Ofacertaintythereisone.”
“Thenyouwillbethere,MonsieurleCure.Yousaythatisnotcertain,andI
sayitis.Youwillbethere,youwillbethere,atthegate,onthewatchforyour
parishioners,andstillbusywiththeirlittleaffairs;andyouwillsaytoSt.Peter—
foritisSt.Peter,isn’tit,whokeepsthekeysofparadise?”
“Yes,itisSt.Peter.”
“Well,youwillsaytohim,toSt.Peter,ifhewantstoshutthedoorinmyface


underthepretensethatIdidnotgotomass—youwillsaytohim:‘Bah!lethim
in all the same. It is Bernard, one of the farmers of Madame la Marquise, an
honestman.Hewascommoncouncilman,andhevotedforthemaintenanceof
the sisters when they were going to be expelled from the village school.’ That
willtouchSt.Peter,whowillanswer:‘Well,well,youmaypass,Bernard,butit
isonlytopleaseMonsieurleCure.’ForyouwillbeMonsieurleCureupthere,
andCureofLongueval,too,forparadiseitselfwouldbedullforyouifyoumust
giveupbeingCureofLongueval.”
Cure of Longueval! Yes, all his life he had been nothing but Cure of
Longueval,hadneverdreamedofanythingelse,hadneverwishedtobeanything
else. Three or four times excellent livings, with one or two curates, had been
offeredtohim,buthehadalwaysrefusedthem.Helovedhislittlechurch,his
littlevillage,hislittlevicarage.Therehehaditalltohimself,sawtoeverything
himself; calm, tranquil, he went and came, summer and winter, in sunshine or
storm,inwindorrain.Hisframebecamehardenedbyfatigueandexposure,but
hissoulremainedgentle,tender,andpure.
Helivedinhisvicarage,whichwasonlyalargerlaborer’scottage,separated
fromthechurchbythechurchyard.WhentheCuremountedtheladdertotrain
hispearandpeachtrees,overthetopofthewallheperceivedthegravesover
whichhehadsaidthelastprayer,andcastthefirstspadefulofearth.Then,while
continuing his work, he said in his heart a little prayer for the repose of those
among his dead whose fate disturbed him, and who might be still detained in
purgatory.Hehadatranquilandchildlikefaith.
But among these graves there was one which, oftener than all the others,
receivedhisvisitsandhisprayers.ItwasthetombofhisoldfriendDr.Reynaud,
who had died in his arms in 1871, and under what circumstances! The doctor
had been like Bernard; he never went to mass or to confession; but he was so
good,socharitable,socompassionatetothesuffering.Thiswasthecauseofthe
Cure’sgreatanxiety,ofhisgreatsolicitude.HisfriendReynaud,wherewashe?
Wherewashe?Thenhecalledtomindthenoblelifeofthecountrydoctor,all
made up of courage and self-denial; he recalled his death, above all his death,
andsaidtohimself:
“Inparadise;hecanbenowherebutinparadise.ThegoodGodmayhavesent
himtopurgatoryjustforform’ssake—buthemusthavedeliveredhimafterfive
minutes.”
All this passed through the mind of the old man, as he continued his walk
towardSouvigny.Hewasgoingtothetown,tothesolicitoroftheMarquise,to
inquire the result of the sale; to learn who were to be the new masters of the


castleofLongueval.TheAbbehadstillaboutamiletowalkbeforereachingthe
firsthousesofSouvigny,andwaspassingtheparkofLavardenswhenheheard,
abovehishead,voicescallingtohim:
“MonsieurleCure,MonsieurleCure.”
Atthisspotadjoiningthewall,alongalleyoflimetreesborderedtheterrace,
and the Abbe, raising his head, perceived Madame de Lavardens, and her son
Paul.
“Whereareyougoing,MonsieurleCure?”askedtheCountess.
“ToSouvigny,totheTribunal,tolearn—”
“Stayhere—MonsieurdeLarnaciscomingafterthesaletotellmetheresult.”
TheAbbeConstantinjoinedthemontheterrace.
GertrudedeLannilis,CountessdeLavardens,hadbeenveryunfortunate.At
eighteenshehadbeenguiltyofafolly,theonlyoneofherlife,butthatone—
irreparable.Shehadmarriedforlove,inaburstofenthusiasmandexaltation,M.
deLavardens,oneofthemostfascinatingandbrilliantmenofhistime.Hedid
not love her, and only married her from necessity; he had devoured his
patrimonial fortune to the very last farthing, and for two or three years had
supported himself by various expedients. Mademoiselle de Lannilis knew all
that,andhadnoillusionsonthesepoints,butshesaidtoherself:
“Iwilllovehimsomuch,thathewillendbylovingme.”
Henceallhermisfortunes.Herexistencemighthavebeentolerable,ifshehad
not loved her husband so much; but she loved him too much. She had only
succeededinwearyinghimbyherimportunitiesandtenderness.Hereturnedto
hisformerlife,whichhadbeenmostirregular.Fifteenyearshadpassedthus,in
alongmartyrdom,supportedbyMadamedeLavardenswithalltheappearance
ofpassiveresignation.Nothingevercoulddistractherfrom,orcureherof,the
lovewhichwasdestroyingher.
M.deLavardensdiedin1869;heleftasonfourteenyearsofage,inwhom
were already visible all the defects and all the good qualities of his father.
Without being seriously affected, the fortune of Madame de Lavardens was
slightly compromised, slightly diminished. Madame de Lavardens sold her
mansioninParis,retiredtothecountry,whereshelivedwithstricteconomy,and
devotedherselftotheeducationofherson.
Buthereagaingriefanddisappointmentawaitedher.PauldeLavardenswas
intelligent, amiable, and affectionate, but thoroughly rebellious against any
constraint,andanyspeciesofwork.Hedrovetodespairthreeorfourtutorswho


vainly endeavored to force something serious into his head, went up to the
militarycollegeofSaint-Cyr,failedattheexamination,andbegantodevourin
Paris,withallthehasteandfollypossible,200,000or300,000francs.
Thatdone,heenlistedinthefirstregimentoftheChasseursd’Afrique,hadin
the very beginning of his military career the good fortune to make one of an
expeditionarycolumnsentintotheSahara,distinguishedhimself,soonbecame
quartermaster, and at the end of three years was about to be appointed sublieutenant,whenhewascaptivatedbyayoungpersonwhoplayedthe‘Fillede
MadameAngot’,atthetheatreinAlgiers.
Paulhadfinishedhistime,hequittedtheservice,andwenttoPariswithhis
charmer....thenitwasadancer....thenitwasanactress....thenacircus-rider.He
tried life in every form. He led the brilliant and miserable existence of the
unoccupied.
But it was only three or four months that he passed in Paris each year. His
mothermadehimanallowanceOf30,000francs,andhaddeclaredtohimthat
never, while she lived, should he have another penny before his marriage. He
knewhismother,heknewhemustconsiderherwordsasserious.Thus,wishing
tomakeagoodfigureinParis,andleadamerrylife,hespenthis30,000francs
inthreemonths,andthendocilelyreturnedtoLavardens,wherehewas“outat
grass.” He spent his time hunting, fishing, and riding with the officers of the
artillery regiment quartered at Souvigny. The little provincial milliners and
grisettes replaced, without rendering him obvious of, the little singers and
actressesofParis.Bysearchingforthem,onemaystillfindgrisettesincountry
towns,andPauldeLavardenssoughtassiduously.
AssoonastheCurehadreachedMadamedeLavardens,shesaid:“Without
waitingforMonsieurdeLarnac,Icantellyouthenamesofthepurchasersofthe
domainofLongueval.Iamquiteeasyonthesubject,andhavenodoubtofthe
success of our plan. In order to avoid any foolish disputes, we have agreed
amongourselves,thatis,amongourneighbors,MonsieurdeLarnac,Monsieur
Gallard,agreatParisianbanker,andmyself.MonsieurdeLarnacwillhaveLa
Mionne,MonsieurGallardthecastleandBlanche-Couronne,andLaRozeraie.I
knowyou,MonsieurleCure,youwillbeanxiousaboutyourpoor,butcomfort
yourself.TheseGallardsarerichandwillgiveyouplentyofmoney.”
At this moment a cloud of dust appeared on the road, from it emerged a
carriage.
“HerecomesMonsieurdeLarnac!”criedPaul,“Iknowhisponies!”
Allthreehurriedlydescendedfromtheterraceandreturnedtothecastle.They


arrivedtherejustasM.deLarnac’scarriagedroveuptotheentrance.
“Well?”askedMadamedeLavardens.
“Well!”repliedM.deLarnac,“wehavenothing.”
“What?Nothing?”criedMadamedeLavardens,verypaleandagitated.
“Nothing,nothing;absolutelynothing—theoneortheotherofus.”
AndM.deLarnacspringingfromhiscarriage,relatedwhathadtakenplaceat
thesalebeforetheTribunalofSouvigny.
“At first,” he said, “everything went upon wheels. The castle went to
MonsieurGallardfor650,000francs.Nocompetitor—araiseoffiftyfrancshad
been sufficient. On the other hand, there was a little battle for BlancheCouronne. The bids rose from 500,000 francs to 520,000 francs, and again
Monsieur Gallard was victorious. Another and more animated battle for La
Rozeraie;atlastitwasknockeddowntoyou,Madame,for455,000francs....I
got the forest of La Mionne without opposition at a rise of 100 francs. All
seemed over, those present had risen, our solicitors were surrounded with
personsaskingthenamesofthepurchasers.”
“MonsieurBrazier,thejudgeintrustedwiththesale,desiredsilence,andthe
bailiff of the court offered the four lots together for 2,150,000 or 2,160,000
francs, I don’t remember which. A murmur passed through the assembly. ‘No
one will bid’ was heard on all sides. But little Gibert, the solicitor, who was
seated in the first row, and till then had given no sign of life, rose and said
calmly,‘Ihaveapurchaserforthefourlotstogetherat2,200,000francs.’This
waslikeathunderbolt.Atremendousclamorarose,followedbyadeadsilence.
The hall was filled with farmers and laborers from the neighborhood. Two
millionfrancs!Somuchmoneyforthelandthrewthemintoasortofrespectful
stupor.However,MonsieurGallard,bendingtowardSandrier,thesolicitorwho
had bid for him, whispered something in his ear. The struggle began between
Gibert and Sandrier. The bids rose to 2,500,000 francs. Monsieur Gallard
hesitatedforamoment—decided—continuedupto3,000,000.Thenhestopped
andthewholewenttoGibert.Everyonerushedonhim,theysurrounded—they
crushedhim:‘Thename,thenameofthepurchaser?’‘ItisanAmerican,’replied
Gibert,‘Mrs.Scott.’”
“Mrs.Scott!”criedPauldeLavardens.
“Youknowher?”askedMadamedeLavardens.
“DoIknowher?—doI—notatall.ButIwasataballatherhousesixweeks
ago.”


“Ataballatherhouse!andyoudon’tknowher!Whatsortofwomanisshe,
then?”
“Charming,delightful,ideal,amiracle!”
“AndisthereaMr.Scott?”
“Certainly,atall,fairman.Hewasathisball.Theypointedhimouttome.He
bowedatrandomrightandleft.Hewasnotmuchamused,Iwillanswerforit.
Helookedatusasifhewerethinking,‘Whoareallthesepeople?Whatarethey
doingatmyhouse?’WewenttoseeMrs.ScottandMissPercival,hersister.And
certainlyitwaswellworththetrouble.”
“These Scotts,” said Madame de Lavardens, addressing M. de Larnac, “do
youknowwhotheyare?”
“Yes, Madame, I know. Mr. Scott is an American, possessing a colossal
fortune, who settled himself in Paris last year. As soon as their name was
mentioned, I understood that the victory had never been doubtful. Gallard was
beaten beforehand. The Scotts began by buying a house in Paris for 2,000,000
francs,itisneartheParcMonceau.”
“Yes,RueMurillo,”saidPaul;“ItellyouIwenttoaballthere.Itwas—”
“Let Monsieur de Larnac speak. You can tell us presently about the ball at
Mrs.Scott’s.”
“Well, now, imagine my Americans established in Paris,” continued M. de
Larnac, “and the showers of gold begun. In the orthodox parvenu style they
amuse themselves with throwing handfuls of gold out of window. Their great
wealthisquiterecent,theysay;tenyearsagoMrs.Scottbeggedinthestreetsof
NewYork.”
“Begged!”
“Theysayso.ThenshemarriedthisScott,thesonofaNewYorkbanker,and
all at once a successful lawsuit put into their hands not millions, but tens of
millions.SomewhereinAmericatheyhaveasilvermine,butagenuinemine,a
realmine—aminewithsilverinit.Ah!weshallseewhatluxurywillreignat
Longueval!Weshallalllooklikepaupersbesidethem!Itissaidthattheyhave
100,000francsadaytospend.”
“Suchareourneighbors!”criedMadamedeLavardens.“Anadventuress!and
thatistheleastofit—aheretic,Monsieurl’Abbe,aProtestant!”
A heretic! a Protestant! Poor Cure; it was indeed that of which he had
immediatelythoughtonhearingthewords,“AnAmerican,Mrs.Scott.”Thenew
chatelaineofLonguevalwouldnotgotomass.Whatdiditmattertohimthatshe


hadbeenabeggar?Whatdiditmattertohimifshepossessedtensandtensof
millions?ShewasnotaCatholic.Hewouldneveragainbaptizechildrenbornat
Longueval,andthechapelinthecastle,wherehehadsooftensaidmass,would
be transformed into a Protestant oratory, which would echo only the frigid
utterancesofaCalvinisticorLutheranpastor.
Everyonewasdistressed,disappointed,overwhelmed;butinthemidstofthe
generaldepressionPaulstoodradiant.
“Acharminghereticatallevents,”saidhe,“orrathertwocharmingheretics.
YoushouldseethetwosistersonhorsebackintheBois,withtwolittlegrooms
behindthemnothigherthanthat.”
“Come,Paul,tellusallyouknow.Describetheballofwhichyouspeak.How
didyouhappentogotoaballattheseAmericans?”
“Bythegreatestchance.MyAuntValentinewasathomethatnight;Ilooked
inaboutteno’clock.Well,AuntValentine’sWednesdaysarenotexactlyscenes
ofwildenjoyment,Igiveyoumyword!Ihadbeenthereabouttwentyminutes
whenIcaughtsightofRogerdePuymartinescapingfurtively.Icaughthimin
thehallandsaid:
“‘Wewillgohometogether.’
“‘Oh!Iamnotgoinghome.’
“‘Whereareyougoing?’
“‘Totheball.’
“‘Where?’
“‘AtMrs.Scott’s.Willyoucome?’
“‘ButIhavenotbeeninvited.’
“‘NeitherhaveI’
“‘What!notinvited?’
“‘No.Iamgoingwithoneofmyfriends.’
“‘Anddoesyourfriendknowthem?’
“‘Scarcely;butenoughtointroduceus.Comealong;youwillseeMrs.Scott.’
“‘Oh!IhaveseenheronhorsebackintheBois.’
“‘But she does not wear a low gown on horseback; you have not seen her
shoulders,andtheyareshoulderswhichoughttobeseen.Thereisnothingbetter
inParisatthismoment.’
“AndIwenttotheball,andIsawMrs.Scott’sredhair,andIsawMrs.Scott’s
white shoulders, and I hope to see them again when there are balls at


Longueval.”
“Paul!”saidMadamedeLavardens,pointingtotheAbbe.
“Oh! Monsieur l’Abbe, I beg a thousand pardons. Have I said anything? It
seemstome—”
Thepooroldpriesthadheardnothing;histhoughtswereelsewhere.Already
he saw, in the village streets, the Protestant pastor from the castle stopping
beforeeachhouse,andslippingunderthedoorslittleevangelicalpamphlets.
Continuinghisaccount,Paullaunchedintoanenthusiasticdescriptionofthe
mansion,whichwasamarvel—
“Ofbadtasteandostentation,”interruptedMadamedeLavardens.
“Notatall,mother,notatall;nothingstartling,nothingloud.Itisadmirably
furnished, everything done with elegance and originality. An incomparable
conservatory, flooded with electric light; the buffet was placed in the
conservatory under a vine laden with grapes, which one could gather by
handfuls, and in the month of April! The accessories of the cotillon cost, it
appears,morethan400,000francs.Ornaments,‘bon-bonnieres’,delicioustrifles,
andwewerebeggedtoacceptthem.FormypartItooknothing,buttherewere
many who made no scruple. That evening Puymartin told me Mrs. Scott’s
history, but it was not at all like Monsieur de Larnac’s story. Roger said that,
whenquitelittle,Mrs.Scotthadbeenstolenfromherfamilybysomeacrobats,
and that her father had found her in a travelling circus, riding on barebacked
horsesandjumpingthroughpaperhoops.”
“A circus-rider!” cried Madame de Lavardens, “I should have preferred the
beggar.”
“And while Roger was telling me this Family Herald romance, I saw
approaching from the end of a gallery a wonderful cloud of lace and satin; it
surrounded this rider from a wandering circus, and I admired those shoulders,
thosedazzlingshoulders,onwhichundulatedanecklaceofdiamondsasbigas
thestopperofadecanter.TheysaythattheMinisterofFinancehadsoldsecretly
toMrs.Scotthalfthecrowndiamonds,andthatwashow,themonthbefore,he
hadbeenabletoshowasurplusof1,500,000francsinthebudget.Addtoallthis
that the lady had a remarkably good air, and that the little acrobat seemed
perfectlyathomeinthemidstofallthissplendor.”
Paulwasgoingsofarthathismotherwasobligedtostophim.BeforeM.de
Larnac,whowasexcessivelyannoyedanddisappointed,heshowedtooplainly
his delight at the prospect of having this marvellous American for a near
neighbor.


TheAbbeConstantinwaspreparingtoreturntoLongueval,butPaul,seeing
himreadytostart,said:
“No!no!MonsieurleCure,youmustnotthinkofwalkingbacktoLongueval
intheheatoftheday.Allowmetodriveyouhome.Iamreallygrievedtosee
yousocastdown,andwilltrymybesttoamuseyou.Oh!ifyouweretentimesa
saintIwouldmakeyoulaughatmystories.”
Andhalfanhourafter,thetwo—theCureandPaul—drovesidebysideinthe
directionofthevillage.Paultalked,talked,talked.Hismotherwasnotthereto
checkormoderatehistransports,andhisjoywasoverflowing.
“Now,lookhere,Monsieurl’Abbe,youarewrongtotakethingsinthistragic
manner.Stay,lookatmylittlemare,howwellshetrots!whatgoodactionshe
has! You have not seen her before? What do you think I paid for her? Four
hundredfrancs.Idiscoveredherafortnightago,betweentheshaftsofamarket
gardener’scart.Sheisatreasure.Iassureyoushecandosixteenmilesanhour,
andkeepone’shandsfullallthetime.Justseehowshepulls.Come,tot-tot-tot!
Youarenotinahurry,Monsieurl’Abbe,Ihope.Letusreturnthroughthewood;
thefreshairwilldoyougood.Oh!Monsieurl’Abbe,ifyouonlyknewwhata
regardIhaveforyou,andrespect,too.Ididnottalktoomuchnonsensebefore
youjustnow,didI?Ishouldbesosorry—”
“No,mychild,Iheardnothing.”
“Well,wewilltakethelongestwayround.”
Afterhavingturnedtotheleftinthewood,Paulresumedhiscommunications.
“I was saying, Monsieur l’Abbe,” he went on, “that you are wrong to take
thingssoseriously.ShallItellyouwhatIthink?Thisisaveryfortunateaffair.”
“Veryfortunate?”
“Yes, very fortunate. I would rather see the Scotts at Longueval than the
Gallards.DidyounothearMonsieurdeLarnacreproachtheseAmericanswith
spendingtheirmoneyfoolishly.Itisneverfoolishtospendmoney.Thefollylies
inkeepingit.YourpoorforIamperfectlysurethatitisyourpoorofwhomyou
arethinking—yourpoorhavemadeagoodthingofitto-day.Thatismyopinion.
Thereligion?Well,theywillnotgotomass,andthatwillbeagrieftoyou,that
isonlynatural;buttheywillsendyoumoney,plentyofmoney,andyouwilltake
it,andyouwillbequiterightindoingso.Youwillseethatyouwillnotsayno.
Therewillbegoldrainingoverthewholeplace;amovement,abustle,carriages
with four horses, postilions, powdered footmen, paper chases, hunting parties,
balls,fireworks,andhereinthisveryspotIshallperhapsfindParisagainbefore
long.Ishallseeoncemorethetworiders,andthetwolittlegroomsofwhomI


was speaking just now. If you only knew how well those two sisters look on
horseback!OnemorningIwentrightroundtheBoisdeBoulognebehindthem;I
fancyIcanseethemstill.Theyhadhighhats,andlittleblackveilsdrawnvery
tightlyovertheirfaces,andlongriding-habitsmadeintheprincessform,witha
single seam right down the back; and a woman must be awfully well made to
wearariding-habitlikethat,becauseyousee,Monsieurl’Abbe,withahabitof
thatcutnodeceptionispossible.”
ForsomemomentstheCurehadnotbeenlisteningtoPaul’sdiscourse.They
hadenteredalong,perfectlystraightavenue,andattheendofthisavenuethe
Curesawahorsemangallopingalong.
“Look,” said the Cure to Paul, “your eyes are better than mine. Is not that
Jean?”
“Yes,itisjean.Iknowhisgraymare.”
Paullovedhorses,andbeforelookingattheriderlookedatthehorse.Itwas
indeedJean,who,whenhesawinthedistancetheCureandPauldeLavardens,
wavedintheairhiskepiadornedwithtwogoldenstripes.Jeanwaslieutenantin
theregimentofartilleryquarteredatSouvigny.
Some moments after he stopped by the little carriage, and, addressing the
Cure,said:
“Ihavejustbeentoyourhouse,‘monparrain’.Paulinetoldmethatyouhad
gonetoSouvignyaboutthesale.Well,whohasboughtthecastle?”
“AnAmerican,Mrs.Scott.”
“AndBlanche-Couronne?”
“Thesame,Mrs.Scott.”
“AndLaRozeraie?”
“Mrs.Scottagain.”
“Andtheforest?Mrs.Scottagain?”
“Youhavesaidit,”repliedPaul,“andIknowMrs.Scott,andIcanpromise
you that there will be something going on at Longueval. I will introduce you.
Only it is distressing to Monsieur l’Abbe because she is an American—a
Protestant.”
“Ah!thatistrue,”saidJean,sympathizingly.“However,wewilltalkaboutit
to-morrow.Iamgoingtodinewithyou,godfather;IhavewarnedPaulineofmy
visit; no time to stop to-day. I am on duty, and must be in quarters at three
o’clock.”


“Stables?”askedPaul.
“Yes.Good-by,Paul.To-morrow,godfather.”
The lieutenant galloped away. Paul de Lavardens gave his little horse her
head.
“WhatacapitalfellowJeanis!”saidPaul.
“Oh,yes,indeed!”
“ThereisnooneonearthbetterthanJean.”
“No,noone.”
TheCureturnedroundtotakeanotherlookatJean,whowasalmostlostinthe
depthsoftheforest.
“Oh,yes,thereisyou,MonsieurleCure.”
“No,notme!notme!”
“Well,Monsieurl’Abbe,shallItellyouwhatIthink?Ithinkthereisnoone
betterthanyoutwo—youandJean.Thatisthetruth,ifImusttellyou.Oh!what
asplendidplaceforatrot!IshallletNinichego;IcallherNiniche.”
WiththepointofhiswhipPaulcaressedtheflankofNiniche,whostartedoff
atfullspeed,andPaul,delighted,cried:
“Justlookatheraction,Monsieurl’Abbe!justlookatheraction!Soregular
—justlikeclockwork.Leanoverandlook.”
To please Paul de Lavardens the Abbe Constantin did lean over and look at
Niniche’saction,buttheoldpriest’sthoughtswerefaraway.


CHAPTERII.THENEWCHATELAINE
Thissub-lieutenantofartillerywascalledJeanReynaud.Hewasthesonofa
countrydoctorwhosleptinthechurchyardofLongueval.
In 1846, when the Abbe’ Constantin took possession of his little living, the
grandfatherofJeanwasresidinginapleasantcottageontheroadtoSouvigny,
betweenthepicturesqueoldcastlesofLonguevalandLavardens.
Marcel, the son of that Dr. Reynaud, was finishing his medical studies in
Paris. He possessed great industry, and an elevation of sentiment and mind
extremely rare. He passed his examinations with great distinction, and had
decidedtofixhisabodeinParisandtemptfortunethere,andeverythingseemed
to promise him the most prosperous and brilliant career, when, in 1852, he
received the news of his father’s death—he had been struck down by a fit of
apoplexy.MarcelhurriedtoLongueval,overwhelmedwithgrief,forheadored
hisfather.Hespentamonthwithhismother,andthenspokeofthenecessityof
returningtoParis.
“Thatistrue,”saidhismother;“youmustgo.”
“What! I must go! We must go, you mean. Do you think that I would leave
youherealone?Ishalltakeyouwithme.”
“ToliveinParis;toleavetheplacewhereIwasborn,whereyourfatherlived,
where he died? I could never do it, my child, never! Go alone; your life, your
future,arethere.Iknowyou;Iknowthatyouwillneverforgetme,thatyouwill
comeandseemeoften,veryoften.”
“No,mother,”heanswered;“Ishallstayhere.”
Andhestayed.
Hishopes,hisambitions,allinonemomentvanished.Hesawonlyonething
—duty—thedutyof notabandoning hisagedmother.Induty,simplyaccepted
andsimplydischarged,hefoundhappiness.Afterall,itisonlythusthatonedoes
findhappiness.
Marcel bowed with courage and good grace to his new existence. He
continuedhisfather’slife,enteringthegrooveattheveryspotwherehehadleft
it.Hedevotedhimselfwithoutregrettotheobscurecareerofacountrydoctor.
His father had left him a little land and a little money; he lived in the most
simple manner possible, and one half of his life belonged to the poor, from


whomhewouldneverreceiveapenny.
Thiswashisonlyluxury.
Hefoundinhiswayayounggirl,charming,penniless,andaloneintheworld.
He married her. This was in 1855, and the following year brought to Dr.
Reynaud a great sorrow and a great joy—the death of his old mother and the
birthofhissonJean.
At an interval of six weeks, the Abby Constantin recited the prayers for the
dead over the grave of the grandmother, and was present in the position of
godfatheratthebaptismofthegrandson.
In consequence of constantly meeting at the bedside of the suffering and
dying,thepriestandthedoctorhadbeenstronglyattractedtoeachother.They
instinctivelyfeltthattheybelongedtothesamefamily,thesamerace—therace
ofthetender,thejust,andthebenevolent.
Year followed year—calm, peaceful, fully occupied in labor and duty. Jean
was no longer an infant. His father gave him his first lessons in reading and
writing,thepriesthisfirstlessonsinLatin.Jeanwasintelligentandindustrious.
He made so much progress that the two professors—particularly the Cure—
found themselves at the end of a few years rather cast into the shade by their
pupil. It was at this moment that the Countess, after the death of her husband,
cametosettleatLavardens.ShebroughtwithheratutorforhersonPaul,avery
nice,butverylazylittlefellow.Thetwochildrenwereofthesameage;theyhad
knowneachotherfromtheirearliestyears.
Madame de Lavardens hada greatregardforDr. Reynaud,andone dayshe
madehimthefollowingproposal:
“Send Jean to me every morning,” said she, “I will send him home in the
evening. Paul’s tutor is a very accomplished man; he will make the children
worktogether.Itwillberenderingmearealservice.JeanwillsetPaulagood
example.”
Things were thus arranged, and the little bourgeois set the little nobleman a
most excellent example of industry and application, but this excellent example
wasnotfollowed.
Thewarbrokeout.OnNovember14th,atseveno’clockinthemorning,the
mobiles of Souvigny assembled in the great square of the town; their chaplain
wastheAbbeConstantin,theirsurgeon-major,Dr.Reynaud.Thesameideahad
comeatthesamemomenttoboth;thepriestwassixty-two,thedoctorfifty.
When they started, the battalion followed the road which led through


Longueval,andwhichpassedbeforethedoctor’shouse.MadameReynaudand
Jean were waiting by the roadside. The child threw himself into his father’s
arms.
“Takeme,too,papa!takeme,too!”
MadameReynaudwept.Thedoctorheldthembothinalongembrace,thenhe
continuedhisway.
Ahundredstepsfarthertheroadmadeasharpcurve.Thedoctorturned,cast
onelonglookathiswifeandchild-thelast;hewasnevertoseethemagain.
On January 8, 1871, the mobiles of Souvigny attacked the village of
Villersexel, occupied by the Prussians, who had barricaded themselves. The
firingbegan.Amobilewhomarchedinthefrontrankreceivedaballinthechest
andfell.Therewasashortmomentoftroubleandhesitation.
“Forward!forward!”shoutedtheofficers.
The men passed over the body of their comrade, and under a hail of bullets
enteredthetown.
Dr.ReynaudandtheAbbeConstantinmarchedwiththetroops;theystopped
bythewoundedman;thebloodwasrushinginfloodsfromhismouth.
“There is nothing to be done,” said the doctor. “He is dying; he belongs to
you.”
Thepriestkneltdownbythedyingman,andthedoctorrosetogotowardthe
village. He had not taken ten steps when he stopped, beat the air with both
hands, and fell all at once to the ground. The priest ran to him; he was deadkilledonthespotbyabulletthroughthetemples.Thateveningthevillagewas
ours,andthenextdaytheyplacedinthecemeteryofVillersexelthebodyofDr.
Reynaud.
TwomonthslatertheAbbeConstantintookbacktoLonguevalthecoffinof
hisfriend,andbehindthecoffin,whenitwascarriedfromthechurch,walkedan
orphan. Jean had also lost his mother. At the news of her husband’s death,
Madame Reynaud had remained for twenty-four hours petrified, crushed,
without a word or a tear; then fever had seized her, then delirium, and after a
fortnight,death.
Jeanwasaloneintheworld;hewasfourteenyearsold.Ofthatfamily,where
for more than a century all had been good and honest, there remained only a
child kneeling beside a grave; but he, too, promised to be what his father and
grandfatherbeforehimhadbeen—good,andhonest,andtrue.
There are families like that in France, and many of them, more than one


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